What Damages Can You Recover from a Wrongful Death Case in California

wrongful death | January 12, 2024

Family members and estates of those who have lost their lives due to the negligent actions of others are often able to recover compensation through a wrongful death claim filed in civil court. Wrongful death claims are challenging, but a successful claim can help families gain closure and estates recover the compensation needed to help a family transition to a new stage. Here, we want to review the main types of compensation typically available after a successful California wrongful death claim.

Economic Damages for California Wrongful Death Claims

Economic damages are those that are relatively calculable after a wrongful death occurs and typically include the following types of losses:

  • Financial support the deceased would have provided throughout their lifetime
  • Medical expenses related to the deceased’s injury or illness
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Value of household goods the deceased would have provided throughout their lifetime
  • The loss of any benefits or gifts relatives could have reasonably expected to receive from the deceased throughout their lifetime

Non-Economic Damages for California Wrongful Death Claims

Non-economic damages related to a wrongful death claim include more immeasurable losses that tend to be harder to quantify. However, there are specific calculation methods used to help determine these types of damages for an estate and surviving family members. Typical non-economic damages for a successful wrongful death claim in California include:


  • Loss of the deceased’s love, society, companionship, and protection
  • Loss of moral support, guidance, training, and affection provided by the deceased
  • Loss of consortium (sexual relations) for a spouse or partner
  • Damages for the deceased’s pain and suffering caused by the injuries if there was time between when the injuries occurred and death

Non-economic damages for a California wrongful death claim cannot include compensation for grief, sorrow, or pain and suffering caused by the death of a loved one.

Will a Survival Action Bring Different Damages?

Survival options are different from wrongful death claims, though they are often filed at the same time. Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.30, we can see that survival actions are filed by the heirs on behalf of the deceased’s estate. These types of legal actions can provide compensation for:

  • Claims unrelated to the death but which the deceased had the right to sue for as of the date of their death and/or
  • Claims for the injury that led to the death, so long as the individual survived the injuries for some period of time after they occurred.

Is an Attorney Needed to Recover Compensation

The truth is that wrongful death claims and survival actions are immensely complex, and we encourage any person who thinks they may have a claim to reach out to an attorney for assistance as soon as possible. A wrongful death attorney can examine the facts of the case and help guide you to the best path for recovering compensation for your loved one’s estate and your family. When an attorney gets involved, they will conduct a complete investigation into the incident and handle all communication with other parties. Your attorney will prepare your claim for trial while also working to negotiate a fair settlement.